We recently attended an owner's update, which much to our surprise (not!) was really an attempt to sell us something. If you're a timeshare owner, I'm sure you're familiar with the routine. Whatever you own now isn't nearly good enough, but if you just give us a bit more money, you can upgrade to something so much better.
What I found most interesting, though, was how the math on this worked out...Let's see how the numbers look...
What we already haveMore days like this!
* We currently own three deeded weeks at this particular resort. All are two-bedroom lock-offs, which we usually split to get 6 weeks to work with. We have 52-week float access, so we can book any time of year, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, spring break or summer vacation. We get 6 peak weeks for use or exchange.
* These weeks can be exchanged through either RCI or Interval International, and we use a combination of both companies to find what we want. We reserve far enough in advance that we get prime weeks for exchange. By working the system with RCI and II exchanges, we can often parlay these three lock-offs into 9 or 10 weeks of vacation.
* What can I say? It's a great thing, and we're very happy with what we own. Yes, there are exchange fees, but we can multiply our vacations and go almost anywhere in the timeshare world.
But we could be gold elite!
So what were they pushing at this meeting? Here are the highlights.
- Points! We need to get points. Weeks are passe, and will soon be pretty much worthless. Points are the way of the future. While I know this last part is true, I personally believe that the accounts of weeks' death have been greatly exaggerated.
- Gold elite! If we just convert what we have to points, we'll have enough that we'll be gold elite status. Doesn't that sound special? We'll have access to super duper vacation opportunities that normal people cannot get. My heart's going pitty-pat...
- Flexible stays! With points, we wouldn't need to travel a week at a time. We could go a few days here, a few days there, or whatever fit our schedule.
- Other stuff! We would have points we could use for almost anything. We could pay for airline tickets with our points. "Of course, you could pay cash, but why do that when you can use points?"
How much would this upgrade cost?
This was a moving target. Unlike most things with timeshares, though, the cost kept going down instead of up! 🙂How much green would it cost to go gold?
- It's not possible. First they said they simply won't convert deeded weeks like ours to points anymore. They said the company did this for a limited time, just trying to be nice to their owners, but had to stop because they were losing money on this service.
- $110,000. Next, they quoted a price per point which meant this many points would cost about $250,000 at full retail cost. We wouldn't have to pay that much, though, since they could realistically get it for us for just about $110,000. Oddly enough, we didn't bite on this.
- $10,000. It's almost impossible to believe. Yes, they'd be willing to let us upgrade our weeks to points for a mere $10,000. What a measly amount for $250K worth of points. It would be a miracle if they could get this deal approved, but they'd be willing to try hard on our behalf to make that deal happen. And what a deal it is!
- Free. On our way out the door (almost), the guy of last resort came out and offered it to us for free. That's right, we could get all those points for free for one year, if we just agreed to pay the maintenance fee. It wasn't totally clear what would happen at the end of the year, but it would be free to try for a year.
What's the catch? Watch the math
There's an old expression "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." How could it be that the company loses money on these deals, yet was willing to give it to us for free? This deserves a closer look.So how does this all add up?
- Mum's the word. It was rare that any of the salesmen we spoke with mentioned anything about annual fees. Occasionally one would look at something on his paperwork, flip up a corner of his sheet and jot a few numbers underneath that we couldn't see, and then say something like "you'd be paying a little bit more, but you'd be gold".
- Just a small increase? A bit of delving into the details revealed that our annual fees would go up from $2,700 per year to $4,100 per year, a whopping 52% increase. I'd say that's more than a little bit - we'd be paying half again as much!
- And what do we get? If you were expecting to get 50% more vacation for the 50% greater fees, you'd be sorely mistaken.
To try to book the same exact 2-bedroom units that we currently own, at peak times of year, these points would only get us 2.5 weeks instead of the 3 we have now.
- What about splitting the lock-offs? To try to get a mix of studio weeks + 1-bedroom weeks (which is what we normally use now), this many points could only get us three 1-bedroom weeks + one studio week. That's only 4 weeks instead of the 6 we have now - a 33% decrease in vacations.
Tips for your next timeshare owner's update
- Know the costs. Make sure you see all the numbers for yourself - not just the upgrade cost, but the annual costs as well. You need more than vague statements and scrawls. Don't get too far into this process without seeing some real numbers.
- Know the points. If you go for the deal, what will you get? If you're adding points to an existing package, this is straightforward. If you're moving from weeks to points, though, straighten out the apples to oranges comparison - will the points you get cover booking the exact same thing you have now?
- Keep it logical. Don't let glitzy phrases like "gold elite" or "platinum vip" sway you. You're already important enough - you don't need a timeshare status label to prove it. The real question is whether there's enough true benefit to this upgrade that it's worth the cost.
- Maybe, maybe not. Upgrading your ownership may or may not make sense for you. The salespeople will always say that it does, but your own analysis of the deal may say otherwise. Everyone's situation is different. Make your own informed decision.
Have you been to any timeshare owner's updates where they wanted to sell you something that didn't make much sense? Any tips you'd like to share in the comments below?